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We can't seem to cope now I have 3 children

(35 Posts)
claypole44 Mon 25-Jun-12 16:37:38

I have always thought of myself as good at caring for children, in fact I have made a career out of it. However, with 3 young children of my own, aged 1,3 and 6 I feel at my wits end and my husband feels the same.

I am trained in managing challenging behaviour which is why it is such a slap in the face, not to be able to manage my own kids without feeling like I want to scream and run for the hills. My kids are all very loud,confident and outgoing (which I love) but they challenge us all day, everyday and I find myself wishing myself back to work and away from them. I have planned to retrain at university which will mean my husband and I will both be working full time. I really wanted to enjoy this last year at home with them and I feel so guilty that I haven't.

They are rude, argumentative, destroy the house etc. I think we are strict and follow all the text book advice. Praise & rewards, time out, consequences etc I am referee for their bickering and fighting.I guess this is all normal behaviour just amplified 3 times!! Maybe not being with them all the time will change my perspective. I wish I was more earth mother type and I know a lot of people would love a year at home with their children. Family say I set my expectations way too high but it's hard not to when being a good mum is so important to me.

Anyone else relate to this? any other parents of 3?

madwomanintheattic Mon 25-Jun-12 16:51:43


all sounds quite normal to me.

24/7 is different from 9-3.30. grin

our dc3 has cerebral palsy, so the first couple of years were absolute turmoil. mine are 12,10 and 8 now, and it still feels like chaos.

that said, destruction isn't on, so you need to be zero tolerance about destruction and physical fighting. the rest is fairly meh, if aneurism inducing.

Ineedalife Mon 25-Jun-12 17:03:11

I have 3 too, I have massive gaps between mine and have spent most of the last 18 yrs either as a referee or taxi driver.

I agree with madwoman though destruction needs to be stopped because it will get worse when they get older.

Have you tried super nanny style time outs?? They work brilliantly with lots of children. My GDG included, Make sure you do the explanation and apology bits because they are the bits that make the difference IMHO.

Good luck and stay strong, oh and throw them in the garden at every opportunitygringrin

camdancer Mon 25-Jun-12 17:12:14

Can I join in? Mine are 5, 3 and 1 - well it seemed a good idea at the time but I'm fed up of being a crap, shouty parent who is too tired to do anything. I'm just hoping that when DD2 starts sleeping a bit better, I won't be as tired and then life will get nice again.

My therapist (yup, that's how I'm holding it together) says I should just go with the flow for a bit and look at the positives. On a good day I can do that, on a bad day I just want to run and hide. sad

Oh, and originally I wanted 4 children! <hollow laugh>

madwomanintheattic Mon 25-Jun-12 17:16:58

<trampoline with a net and a padlock>

claypole44 Mon 25-Jun-12 17:18:36

Thanks! The garden is my godsend and I take them out a lot.My 1 year old is on a mission to wreck the place and finds all my older daughter's pens despite my obsession with keeping everything out of reach.He turns out every cupboard and toy box and laughs with glee when I say no. It is his new game.

I got a lovely lamp and I marvel that I have had it for a year now and it's the only thing I treasure that hasn't been defaced - today it has biro scribbled all over the shade :-( Luckily I get over it quickly.

I do lots of time outs and making consequences clear. It is exhausting! :-)

tryingtonotfeckup Mon 25-Jun-12 17:21:15


I'm a mother of three, 5 and twins aged 2, as my DH puts, it feels like we've been hit by a train.

We still have to hit tantrum age, think we're just coming into it so its physical grind at the moment rather than the behaviour side.

I would say that I pick my battles, so that I don't feel as though its a constant uphill struggle. If there is a particular issue DH and I discuss it and agree what to do. On the whole is works, some days though its tough and feels like hard work, no particular reason why for that day. Others days its lovely, generally we go out somewhere simple like a walk and an icre cream.

Sounds normal, don't be hard on yourself. I aim for 80/20 in getting it right and try not to be too hard on myself for the 20%.

claypole44 Mon 25-Jun-12 17:22:49

I hope things get better for you Camdancer. Tiredness is a killer, everything seems so much worse. Once you get a good nights sleep, you can at least start each day with hope and optimism.

I think not putting pressure on yourself and making your expectations realistic is key. I do find myself looking at other parents who seem chilled and enjoying their time with their kids and I wonder what I'm doing wrong :-S

Scootergrrrl Mon 25-Jun-12 17:28:07

Poor thing - I have three too (8, 6 and 2) and it can be absolutely full on. I agree with the poster above though - destruction and rudeness is absolutely not on and needs squishing asap. Bin all the felt tips if you have to unless your daughter can put them away properly. Chalks are much easier to clean off things!
Do you have very high standards about the house etc? I only ask because I have very low standards (house is a bit of a pit!) but I find it less stressful that way. I hope things improve for you soon.

HandMadeTail Mon 25-Jun-12 17:29:43

I found going from 2-3 as difficult as going from none to 1. When one is away, it's so much easier!

Can I suggest that you don't try to arbitrate their arguments? Obviously, don't let them hurt each other, so at times they may need separating, but let them sort out their own arguments - if need be send them into the garden!

Try reading "siblings without rivalry". I found it very useful, and best of all it says your feelings are okay. You don't have to feel guilty about feeling angry, frustrated and depressed, etc!

PissyDust Mon 25-Jun-12 17:29:45

I have 3 with the same age gap as you op.

Mine are now 10 8 & 4.

Pens get thrown away in my house if they are left lying around, pens are only allowed in pencil cases and pencil cases have to be in school bags. DD3 isn't allowed to touch school bags.

I was reading a "shall I have 3 children" thread the other day and I wanted to reply to say NOOOOOOOOO but all the replies were saying how lovely they find it and left me a bit hmm

Going back to work hasn't made it easier (sorry) I'm exhausted and spend weekends being a taxi or catching up on house work I couldn't do during the week, the children don't help they just want to play outside or wreck one room with a sodding camp whilst I clean another room!

Wish I could post more positively smile at least you know your not alone.

ParkbenchSociety Mon 25-Jun-12 17:31:54

Mine are now 15, 17 and 18 and everything you say sounds totally, totally normal to me. In fact , I could have written that myself. They have always been so much fun but also so frustrating. I was deffinitly in the shouty mother club too. They are actually quite nice now....
I am not sure I am qualified to give advice but I would say, keep them exercised and busy, make sure they are polite and respectful and try and be consistent. No means no. Otherwise try not to worry as it will should get better. smile

Ps My Mum said when I had two DC that I might as well have three as its not much extra. She was lying.

PacificDogwood Mon 25-Jun-12 17:32:42


I have four boys between 9 and 2 years and I can honestly say, that it is only in the last 3 months or so, that I feel there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

My top tips:
Surround yourself with people who have more than 2 children - 2 hands, 2 children = much, much more manageable than when the blighter are able to outmanoevre you. It help to be able to moan discuss thing with people who are going through simimlar challenges.

Allow lots of friends to come and play. Mine fight less when there are more children thrown into the mix. There are currently 7 boys in my house (I think wink) and I am on MN...

Live life like an alcoholic - one day at a time grin. Works for me anyway.

I have become very aware of sibling rivalry as well, maybe worse as mine are all the same gender, and found 'How to talk to children so they will listen, and how to listen so they will talk' and the same author's sibling book very interesting.

When I am really honent, I have to say the biggest disappointment of parenthood for me has been the constant niggling/picking fights/looking to find cause for complaint which is likely simply an attention seeking ploy on their part, so then I feel guilty for having wanted (and got!) so many...

wine is also helpful. And chocolate...

moogalicious Mon 25-Jun-12 17:34:42

Mine are 5, 7 and 9. It does get easier although I am also back at work, so don't have much spare time.

I don't referee (unless it gets physical)
I try not to shout as it encourages them to shout which lead to a shouty household <sighs>
Destructiveness is not tolerated
I pick my battles
Toys left lying around for days will be binned!

Like PissyDust I find it hard to be positive on the 'shall I have 3' threads and look forward to days off when the house is empty of dc's and dh.

Hat's off to those with 4 or more!!

camdancer Mon 25-Jun-12 17:42:07

Claypole I'm not really that negative, just this time of day is always hardest - all three at home, dinner etc. You might find that actually you are one of those parents who seem chilled when you are out. I think most of us seem to look like pretty decent parents when we are out and about. It is at home that it all falls apart! It's one of those "don't judge your insides by their outsides" type of things.

Anyway I think it is wine o'clock! grin

claypole44 Mon 25-Jun-12 17:46:36

I have low standards about the house.My husband is more fussy but he does lots of housework despite working long hours. I just tell him there is no point, it will all be undone by lunchtime.

With regards to tends to be relentless tale-telling How do you stop the 'Muuum, E just took my...!' 'Mummy! F just said I'm a .....' I can only ignore it so long before I explode!

Oh...I'm not having any more :-D

EyeoftheStorm Mon 25-Jun-12 17:57:06

Mine are 8, 6 and 3. I have zero tolerance for tale telling as it drives me crazy. Since they were very little, I have answered: "I'm not interested. Sort it out yourselves." If they don't sort it out, I take away whatever they were playing with. If they carry on trying to argue their point, I walk away.

It sounds quite harsh when I write it down like that, but it is all in a nice, calm voice.

Tale-telling I'm good at, now can anyone help me get the 3 of them out of the house in time for school without shouting?

baskingseals Mon 25-Jun-12 18:37:44

clay whatever you feel, don't fall into the trap of thinking everybody else is doing it all so well, and you're the only one who isn't. that's one slippery slope. NOBODY on earth has ever been, is or will be a perfect parent.

i have 3 dc. one moment it's the waltons, blink and it's more like texas chainsaw massacre.

i find it seems to go in patches, as in good, crap and 'i honestly cannot do this anymore'. at the moment it is sort of okay, but i have learnt to let go of my own expectations and focus more on the moment. i also rely heavily on friends with children - have you got any good mates? without them to moan to i think i would end up sobbing in a corner somewhere more often than i actually do.

try and keep perspective. they will grow up. they will.

BombasticAghast Mon 25-Jun-12 18:42:21

I only have 2 - twin boys aged nearly 3. I love baskingseals description of "one moment it's the Waltons, bilk and it's more like Texas Chainsaw Massacre." That's exactly it. Also the good, crap and 'can't go on". That is exactly ow it feels.

Maybe it's just me being crap, but I identify with so much of what is being said - even with just 2! So you guys are doing really well!

shrinkingnora Mon 25-Jun-12 18:53:35

Timing out the toy they are arguing over really works. Or if they are arguing over tv channels it goes off. But three is bloody hard work. Sometimes just taking the path of least resistance is good. And be out all the time when it's not pissing down. less time for the house to get messy...

threebeautifulboys Tue 04-Dec-12 18:56:56

Oh I have just read this thread. Thank you to everyone who has written it is such a help. I have 3 boys aged 10, 8 and 2 and feel like a failure on a daily basis. I know I look chilled when out because people comment on how relaxed I look! Like a swan serene on the outside but kicking like crazy under the water.

I recon my expectations are way too high....but I like a neat least I used to!

My children bicker constantly which makes me feeln like a failure but individually are a joy. I think they need more 1 on 1 but I struggle to find the time. No more for me!

naturalbaby Tue 04-Dec-12 20:49:00

I have 3 under 5 and I really wanted to go retrain at Uni but am convinced there is no way anyone will be able to cope with 3 very boisterous little ones.

I have 2 manic/very active/very determined boys who loose focus and run into roads/car parks and a lovely gentle caring boy who has now decided enough is enough and has turned into the biggest bully of all of them.

One has just come out of the terrible twos, another is rapidly going into the terrible twos.

Today was a fairly good day - we all had a long walk home from school and I gave ds1 jobs from the minute he walked through the door, non stop till I had to cook dinner then it was t.v time. Ds3 kept turning the t.v off. After dinner ds1 slapped ds2 in the face, just as I was about to give him a sticker for being so good and helpful.

WeAreSix Tue 04-Dec-12 20:54:59

I've just posted something similar in parenting. DCs are 9, 7, 5 and 4 months. My 5yo has SENs and is needing more and more support as each week goes by.

If being a mum was my career I'd say I was burning out. I thought I'd be good at being a mother too. It seems I underestimated reality!

My plan is to follow the good advice I've been given on here I'm in bed asleep, honest and to cut myself some slack Hope you feel more positive soon.

zookeeper Tue 04-Dec-12 21:08:02

I have three, aged 11,9 and 8. The older two are two boisterous confident boys and the youngest is a feisty no holds barred girl.I have been a lone parent with them for five years. It does get easier but I can remember my exdp and I and subsequently just me feeling overwhelmed with them.

I think however well disciplined and firm you are with three young children there is always going to be noise, banging, crashing, breaking things (albeit accidentally), arguments, etc. More and more however, as their characters and hobbies develop, mine at least are becoming more self contained and less needy of me and uptight with each other.

Hang on in there because it does seem to get better although I am awaiting with no small trepidation their teenage years

zookeeper Tue 04-Dec-12 21:29:37

My advice (this is more my survival guide as I lurch from day to day!) is this; -
- get them outside as much as possible, and especially when you're feeling murderous; the exercise calms everyone down and , as my mother reminds me, you're less likely to hit them in public grin
- try to drop your housekeeping standards, or at least decide what you can't live with and tackle that, eg if you can't live with a messy kitchen just try to keep on top of that even if the rest of the house is a tip
- try to be consistent with them so that they know that no means no
- really concentrate on not getting overtired; even if it means going to bed with them some nights
- seek out other parents of three or more so that you can share your pain and ongoing daily disasters. you won't feeel so inadequate when you realise that it's normal to find three bloody hard work
- online shop where possible
- really limit extra curricular activities during the week so on top of everything you're not chauffering the little darlings everywhere whilst exhausted - they've got each other for company and can do their own thing when in secondary school
- forget the whole reward charts/stars/stickers stuff - with three it's really hard to apply them consistently. I lob fifty pence into a family fund pot when I think of it when one of then does something helpful or kind and then we all have a treat with it every couple of weeks or so. (we're talking small scale here - a hot chocolate at Asda or a cake or pens or something.)
- lastly, the old cliches do help - find one that you like - my current one is "this too will pass" but it could equally be "tomorrow is a new day" or "one day at a time" and repeat it often to yourself.

Hope that helps a little - I'm always on the lookout for coping tips so watching this thread with interest!

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